Church Pension Fund adds to Hong Kong office

Sajith Ranasinghe has moved from New York to the $8.5bn pension fund’s Hong Kong office as it looks to increase its exposure to Asian private equity and real estate.

The Church Pension Fund, which opened its first office outside the US in Hong Kong last year, has moved a senior associate from its New York office to Hong Kong.

Sajith Ranasinghe, who was focused on real estate investments globally from Church Pension Fund’s New York office, is now based in Hong Kong in what is an expansion of his position to focus on Asian private equity as well as private equity real estate funds, Eric Mason, senior vice president and head of the firm’s Hong Kong office, told PEI Asia.

Ranasinghe has been with Church Pension Fund’s New York office for three years. Prior to that, he worked at Cambridge Associates, an investment advisor to institutional investors and private clients, for four years.

Church Pension Fund, which manages assets of about $8.5 billion, is the only US pension fund to have set up an office in Asia. It established an Asian presence to invest across all asset classes in the region, but with a focus on private equity and private equity real estate. Thus far, the pension fund has backed more than 15 Asian managers across the private equity and private equity real estate asset classes, Mason said. 

A few private equity managers the pension fund has committed capital to in the past include Advantage Partners, Bain Asia, Pacific Equity Partners, Ironbridge Capital, Indivision, Navis Capital, Sequoia Capital India and Sequoia Capital China.

On the real estate front, the pension fund has committed capital to DaVinci inJapan, CLSA’s Fudo Capital, IL&FS Realty Fund, Horizon Realty Fund and SUN-Apollo India Real Estate Fund.

Over the last year, Church Pension Fund committed capital to two Indian private equity funds and a pan-Asian real estate fund, Mason said.

The Church Pension Fund allocates 23 percent of its assets under management to private equity and private equity real estate (including other inflation-hedged investments such as energy and timber) as of 31 March 2009. Of its allocation to these two asset classes, it is targeting an exposure of between 20 percent and 30 percent to Asian funds. 

The pension fund hired Mason in April 2009 to oversee its Asian investments. Mason was formerly the head of The Carlyle Group's Asian leveraged finance business which was shut down in November 2008. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years at JPMorgan, most recently as regional head of leveraged and syndicated finance.